Whiskey, Love, & Death: The Making of Foxfeather's New Self-Titled Album

By: Zach Dahmen

At a time when most local acts are releasing four song EPs, Foxfeather’s new project is bucking the trend. The Boulder-based band dropped their first full length album this month, a self-titled 11-song release. Formed in 2013, the five-piece outfit consists of Carly Ricks Smith (lead vocals), Laura Stratton (guitars/keys/vocals), Patrick Coleman (upright/electric bass/violin), Ben Batchelor (drums/percussion), and Ian Hendrick (electric guitar). This Friday, October 21st is Foxfeather’s Denver CD Release Show at The Walnut Room with Doves and Wolves. Before they hit the stage, we wanted to chat with them about their songwriting style, their new album, and whiskey. Here’s our sit down with Foxfeather:

How did Foxfeather come together?

Laura: Carly and I first started working together to hone our songwriting skills. We were writing and just having fun with it. There came a point when we needed to have more to these songs than just vocals and guitar, which led us to the next stage: forming the band.

Patrick: It was last summer on tour when the five of us officially cemented the lineup.

Carly: And this really feels like the beginning, right now, with this album.

How do you feel like you’ve changed from your first EP to your new album?

Patrick: Our instrumentation has changed in a direct way. We no longer employ mandolin and fiddle. Also Ben is a jazz drummer, and that for me has changed the feel of the band immensely.

Carly: With our first EP, Laura and I really struggled with our identity, and it was difficult to let go of the idea that we were a folk duo. It took making that EP, playing, and touring with this band to make us realize that this is what we wanted. That’s why we self-titled the album; it’s all five of us playing this record.

Foxfeather. Photo Credit:   Kirsten Cohen

Foxfeather. Photo Credit: Kirsten Cohen

Talk to us about your recording process.

Laura: Jay Elliot was our sound engineer [on this album]. We recorded in his home studio last April for nine days. And our producer was Jagoda, who was such an integral part of the entire process. Everyone was there for the whole process.

Ben: It would have felt like we were missing a family member on Thanksgiving had we not all been there for the whole process. Jay mixed and was the conduit, and he was really able to see the tone of it and get a sense of who we are. The songs transformed in those moments.

Carly: The studio changed the way we played these songs live too. We were really trying to be as open as possible during this process.

Ian: As the lead guitarist, I found there to be a lot of pressure; there’s this responsibility, but Jay, Jagoda, and the studio made me feel confident to produce something we are all proud of. It was an authentic experience that was really special.    

Listen to Foxfeather's new self-titled album:

What do you think makes a good song and how do you incorporate that into your writing?

Patrick: Whiskey, love, and death. Those were our themes for this album.

Carly: Laura and I write these songs; it’s a process to find a story that fits. Trying to find that word that gives that exact feeling; starting with just an idea and creating a story around it. Laura and I feed off of each other in that. That base and foundation is what allows us to make these songs.

Ian: For me, a good song is not about geeking out about guitars, it’s the lyrical content and feel. Does the song make you feel something?

Ben: Yeah I think a good song evokes a response from people; that’s the end goal. To connect.

Tickets   here  ! Photo Credit:   Kirsten Cohen

Tickets here! Photo Credit: Kirsten Cohen

What song surprised you most while recording?

Everyone: “Day for Lovers.” (simultaneously)

Laura: We had 16 songs that we brought to the studio. We had a lot of them we weren’t sure would make it. But “Day for Lovers” was a surprise.

Carly: “Day for Lovers” is one of our oldest songs. It changed a lot. We took it and cut some verses and rearranged it to make it its own thing. Afterward, we were like ‘Holy shit. What did we just do?’ I called my mom and told her I just made some baby-making music. It’s become one our favorites.

What are your favorite places to play?

Everyone: Gold Hill Inn; it’s a special place.

Carly: Also Taco Del Gnar is a place we’ve been more than six times. They gave us the opportunity to start touring southern Colorado.

Laura: It’s a home away from home for us.

ON THE ROAD.

ON THE ROAD.

If you could play a show with any band, who would it be?

Everyone: Lake Street Dive. For sure.

What song do you wish you wrote?

Laura: “Pony” by Kasey Chambers, which we cover.

Patrick: Or Dawes’ new song.

So what’s up next for Foxfeather?

Carly: Promoting the CD, planning some small tours, and playing more festivals.

Laura: And continuing the creative process. It’s cool to think about where we can go and to not be stuck in a box.

Catch Foxfeather this Friday at The Walnut Room in Denver. Tickets here! And make sure to give their self-titled album a listen for yourself above.

-Zach

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

This Party Was For Dancing: All Chiefs' EP Release Show at The Squire Lounge

By: Mirna Tufekcic

All Chiefs want you to dance all night. At least, that’s what happened at their EP release party at The Squire Lounge in Denver last Friday. Oh, and they want you to drink. But we’ll come back to that. First, let’s start with the dancing.

The party started with Already Sweaty, a local DJ spinning 70s and 80s pop songs who has been known to open many an All Chiefs’ show. And I can see why. This guy sure knows how to kick off a party! Already Sweaty had people slowly starting to gather for the main show while it was still light outside. I was definitely feeling his grooves as I smoked my cigarette on the patio looking in. The early crowd even formed a dance circle, busting moves before the sun went down.

BOX.

BOX.

BOX, a Denver-based folky blues rock band took the stage next for some tunes. A few songs in, the band played “Wasted”, and it went like this: “We’re all on our way to wasted/tomorrow’s hangover will come too soon”. I was starting to see the pattern here: drinking with dancing to follow. Halfway through their set, BOX put actual cardboard boxes over their heads, and closed with a couple of harder sounds. The crowd looked pleased. It was time for the main event.

All Chiefs.

All Chiefs.

When All Chiefs started to set up onstage, the patio became packed. The night was finally in full swing. Every corner around the bar inside was lined with thirsty, chatty folk, eager to hear the five-piece’s set. Drummer Ben Batchelor’s words from earlier in the evening echoed in my mind, and I laughed thinking about how he said the band intentionally start their sets at the “critical mass of drunkenness.” That’s when the first song started, the track “Collecting Dust” from their brand-spanking new EP Fashion Forward. As I made my way toward the front of the stage, All Chiefs then started in on their cover of Ace of Base’s “The Sign”. And being a 90’s kid, that had me hooked.

All Chiefs' Set List + Illicits.

All Chiefs' Set List + Illicits.

Beyond the booze and all the moves, it’s worth mentioning that Mic Carroll, lead vocalist of the band, has an amazing voice. I knew this guy a few years back from karaoke Wednesdays at the now defunct Catacombs in Boulder, where he ran the gig. I stood back, remembering how Carroll would grab the mic to do a cover, and it instantly became clear to everyone present that he wasn’t just your regular karaoke fan. Way to let your soul outchy’er mouth, Mic!

A few more songs from Fashion Forward followed, and the floor was hot! In fact, Carroll prefaced one track by saying, “This song is about dancing. Just think of it like an alien invasion, except instead of them taking over, they just want you to dance!” Did the crowd and I boogie? Yes; yes we did.

Watch All Chiefs' music video for their single, "Pusher":

The crowd cheered when the band called the end of the show, and an encore chant began. All Chiefs closed with a bangin’ cover of LCD Soundsystem’s “Dance Yrself Clean”, a track that just couldn’t have been a more perfect ending to their captivating show.

All Chiefs are so worth seeing live, and their next show is July 14th at Mile High SpiritsThey’re a fun, dancey rock band whose songs easily stick with you. Their music is heartfelt, and that’s evidenced best when you get to watch them bop and groove onstage, instruments in hand. As Justen Howard, guitarist/vocals for the band said, “We’re having so much fun and we want everyone who comes to see us to have fun too!” So go have fun with these guys soon, and in the meantime, listen to their great new release Fashion Forward.  

-Mirna

All photos per the author; embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.